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GPS for Camino area

almhath

Member
Hello everyone, again.

I have been thinking about a comment someone made to me about how GPS is not really necessary on the Camino Frances. I'm thinking you're right, but I often use GPS for a lot of things and I find it helps me gain perspective on my travel in knowing where I am enroute, especially when in unfamiliar surroundings. So I thought I'd use one if it works out.

On the GPS, I bought a Garmin Etrex 20, because it appeared to be the lightest, and I'm having great difficulty downloading or installing a map for Spain. I am somewhat computer savvy, have an iMac I'm using, but I found Garmin's website cycling me back through registration of the unit over and over, and I couldn't get the download.

I live in the U.S., and I'd like to use it both for the U.S. and Europe, but when I called Garmin, they told me it'll only have enough memory for the detailed map of either the U.S. or Europe, not both at the same time. The U.S. would be a rough map, and Europe would be detailed, or the other way around.

Then they said I'd need to order a DVD, have it mailed, set it up on my computer, and connect my Etrex when I want to change it back to the other country.............

Isn't there a lightweight hiking GPS that I can hold both the U.S. and Europe in it and just use it without having to do all that?

Almha
 
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newfydog

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Hi,

I'm probably the one who posted that you don't need a gps on the Frances. It is true, but I can totally understand why you might want one. With a good unit you can record your entire trip, and later go back and find exactly where that nice little bar was, where you went off trail to take a picture, how long the climb to O''Cebreiro took etc.

First, Garmin makes wonderful units, but their software, and particularlary their unlock process has been described as "the worst in the history of the planet". I have never loaded a map without calling service, but I don't feel bad, because IT professionals have told me the same. Once you get your maps unlocked, things go much better.

We have two small units, a Garmin Dakota 10, and a Dakota 20. Garmin is correct in that neither could hold the entire map of the US and Spain in internal memory. I think either would hold the entire Camino and your home state, just not the entire country.

The Dakota 20 has a major advantage in that it will accept a micro-sd card. These are nice in that they just pop in without unlock codes and add the map, so you could have the US in internal memory and add the Europe SD card when in Europe. It is a great little GPS, and not too expensive. It definitely will record an entire Camino, right down to what bush you went behind to pee.

Garmin also does something I consider outrageous. If you buy the cd of a map, you can only load it onto one unit. If you lose that unit or upgrade, or buy one for the car and one to hike with, you have to buy the entire software package again. It is no wonder that when you google up where to buy a Garmin map you find more pirated versions for sale than legitimate ones. Send me a pm for more raves on what I consider ethical and how I manage my maps.

A great website is GPSFileDepot. Also http://www.velomap.org/. They have all sorts of free maps and tutorials on installing and using them. I've downloaded a nice map of France, and topos of the western US for free from them, and they install much easier than Garmin's stuff.
 

almhath

Member
Ok. I'm getting some of this figured out: Sometimes the best way to move forward is to go backward. Sometimes I am such a ditz, which wouldn't surprise my husband.

I was thinking it would be helpful on my camino to know how far it was to the next village, and I still agree. But I was imagining a GPS unit that would tell me how far it was. So I got a eTrex Garmin, but the getting of the map installed was too complicated and expensive. I finally got it down, but it would be too expensive.

So.........then it hit me: I don't need to know distance to destination to know how far it is; I just need to know distance traveled from the previous town. A guide book or even a couple pages of printed maps will show me distances between towns. All I need to do is bring something that will help me know that, then—if I remember subtraction—I can easily know how far it is to the next town.

With this approach, I don't need to spend the money on a GPS. I returned it. I don't need to buy any maps or spend hours downloading it. I could get a simple pedometer or a light-weight hiking gps if I wanted such as http://www.thegpsstore.com/Garmin-Foret ... P2185.aspx and it's done.

Gawsh.

I know most of you are so experienced you wonder how I can even find my boots, and I am dismayed, myself.

But as long as I'm willing to learn......... :)

Almha
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
The usefulness of a GPS spans a big range. On the Frances, it is useful as a diary.

On the voie Aurelian, from Menton to Arles, a route which is only marked here and there, and the first guidebook is not due for a year or more, it is a game changer.

Mix that the trail requirements your affinity or dislike for tech stuff, and the answer will become clear. At least until next week, when a good gps which sends live reports home and plays your favorite music is free with a fill-up or comes in your box of cereal!
 
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pal

Member
I could get a simple pedometer

Someone suggested I take a pedometer. Thinking of extra weight I decided I didn't need it. And, I didn't NEED it, just wished several times I had taken it with me--to add up all those "extra kms" every day or to see how far I had come since morning.
 

Sansthing

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
French Camino (2009), French Camino (2011), Via de la Plata (2012), Camino Inglês (2014),
I took a simple pedometer with me which only weighed a few grams because I also like to know how far I've walked...unfortunately it didn't work properly :mrgreen:
Sandra :arrow:
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Sansthing said:
I took a simple pedometer with me which only weighed a few grams because I also like to know how far I've walked...unfortunately it didn't work properly :mrgreen:
Sandra :arrow:

Over many years of using a pedometer when bush walking, there are always problems when the unit is covered by a back pack waist strap. Clipping the unit to the waist strap is a solution, but it is important to return it to one's belt when the pack is removed.

It is also appears to be at greater risk of being dislodged and lost. A few times I have had to back track to recover the unit. That said, this is unlikely to be as much of an issue on the Camino as when walking in the Australian bush.

ps always buy a reputable brand. I have used a Yamax DigiWalker for several years, and have found it to be a robust and reliable unit.
 

Pablo2007

Member
I was thinking it would be helpful on my camino to know how far it was to the next village, and I still agree. But I was imagining a GPS unit that would tell me how far it was. So I got a eTrex Garmin, but the getting of the map installed was too complicated and expensive. I finally got it down, but it would be too expensive.

So.........then it hit me: I don't need to know distance to destination to know how far it is; I just need to know distance traveled from the previous town. A guide book or even a couple pages of printed maps will show me distances between towns. All I need to do is bring something that will help me know that, then—if I remember subtraction—I can easily know how far it is to the next town.



Hi, If you are walking the Camino Frances in Spain at any time of year other that the middle of winter, you will be passing people (or them passing you) all day long. Many people have a guide and many have memorised the stage and distances etc. Just ask ANYONE you meet how far to ....??? And I'm sure you will get an answer, (maybe several ...laugh) Good way to start a conversation too.

I just love the people who don't know but just can't say so, and then try to figure it out.

I think a GPS on the Camino Frances in Spain is a bit of overkill, but I walked in France with a couple of Dutch guys who were carrying one and it came in really handy when we deviated of the track whilst engaged in conversation and not watching out for the markers. But in Spain the arrows are EVERYWHERE

You will find most people very helpful.

Good luck

Pablo
 
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almhath

Member
Thanks Pablo,

Ok: Here it is:

I've thought and bought, and I've returned the hiker's GPS I bought, and now I'll just go without a GPS for the Camino, though I may take a lightweight pedometer.

All in all, I just decided it was too heavy, that with the extra batteries, and for the weight it wasn't worth it.

I think I can ask someone if I need some info, and I'll likely get a good sense of it per speed and time after a couple days, and I doubt I'll get lost. I have a good sense of direction, and I'll have maps.......

Also, I've downloaded LOTS of map and distance data into my iphone, which I plan to bring for a host of reasons, and I'm figuring it will be functional much of the time. I can use the iphone for email and photos, distances, Camino apps., etc.

So I recon I'll do it that way.

Thanks all

Almha
 

Davroos

Active Member
Almha

I know I am late on this, but they are so simple to setup

The one that I bought had a micro SD slot. On the card I created a folder called Garmin. I then went to a website called OSM. These are maps made by everyday people and I download maps for where I am going. On a Garmin map, the map must be named gmapsupp. Turn on your GPS and your map is there

As for weight, mine I wear around my neck and it is powered by two AA batteries which I get around 24 hours out of. I never notice the weight.

After the walk, I upload to a site called everytrail and I load my photos onto this as well. I then attach the links onto my blog.

I have done three Caminos and found the GPS can be quite useful. I have never done the Frances trail but on the il Primitivo, I came across sections with three trails and no arrows but my GPS only showed one so I followed it.

Enjoy your walk

David
 

mmm042

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
When I first did the VDLP, I couldn't find any English-language guides (I've since created an app guide for it, as I'm a writer by profession), so I walked it with no guide at all. Yes, I was lost a few times, but nothing too serious and it was part of the fun. Now when I walk the Camino, I go online every night (Godesalco site) and look at the next day's route so I have a general idea in which direction I'll be traveling and if I'll largely be on roads or off, etc., then just walk. I do write down the distances between towns on a slip of paper so I can keep track of when I'll reach my stopping point, or if, say, I need to make sure and grab water in town X because the next town isn't for another 8 miles. So that's another option as well.

Melanie
 

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